On this weekâs show we take a look at Stand for Children, an organization that defines its mission as one of grassroots advocacy for public education. According to a recent Rethinking Schools article by Ken Libby and Adam Sanchez:
âStand for Children was founded in the late 1990s as a way to advocate for the welfare of children. It grew out of a 1996 march by more than 250,000 people in Washington, D.C. The aim of the march was to highlight child poverty at a time when Congress and the Clinton administration were preparing to âend welfare as we know it.â Jonah Edelman, son of childrenâs and civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, co-founded the group and continues to serve as CEO. Standâs first chapter was in Oregon, but the group now operates in eight additional states: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.â
Stand for Childrenâs claim, that they are a grassroots organization that stands for access to quality education for all students, is appealing to many parents and educators. A closer inspection, however, reveals a very different agenda, one that is driven by vast amounts of corporate money and dangerous, ideology-driven notions of education reform. In this program we take a close look at Stand for Children and their controversial activities.
We hear stories from two Massachusetts school committee members who were former Stand members, but who left when they saw a significant shift in Standâs approach: Roger Garberg (Gloucester) and Tracy OâConnell Novick (Worcester). We hear from the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Paul Toner, on a controversial ballot initiative that Stand is pushing in the state. We also share a clip of Jonah Edelman, Stand co-founder and CEO, candidly speaking at the Aspen Institute about Standâs true agenda to destroy the power of teachers unions. Then, we talked with the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis, about her reaction to this clip and to Stand for Children.
Finally, we feature an interview with David Love, former Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and current Executive Director of Witness to Innocence, an organization that works with death row exonerees, about the larger social justice implications of Stand for Childrenâs activities. David is also the Executive Editor of The Black Commentator.
We'd like to note that Education Radio contacted Stand leadership in Massachusetts to request an interview. Stand is staffed by many people who consider themselves education activists, and we were genuinely interested in their take on what we were finding out about the organization. However, after initially being receptive to our request and scheduling an interview, they then presented some conditions and let us know that one Stand staff member would be speaking with us while another would be on the phone for support, and could stop the interview at any point. We agreed to these conditions, only to have them pull out a few hours before the interview was to take place. We can only surmise this is due to the fact that it would have been a difficult, and controversial, conversation.